A single slab red oak dining table was next on our list of projects and just by chance we had a beautiful 40″-42″ wide slab dry and ready for the project harvested from the Hudson Valley. The finished table worked out to be 42″ wide by 7′ long with an asymmetrical curved end design to give it a bit of flair.
We took this slab and flattened it using our 8′ router sled removing about 1″ of total thickness to achieve the perfect flat finish that you want in a dining table. Don’t be fooled by others selling slabs that have just been sanded and not flattened or pieces that are flat, but not perfectly dry. We find that in wide slabs, they can move by over 1 1/2″ from flat over the width of a table just from changes in humidity over time. If a slab is not yet dried and fully stable before you flatten it, it will just continue to move until it is finished. Wood is so strong, that it can crack a table base in two. The finished slab was just shy of 1 3/4″ thick. We would have loved to keep the extra thickness, but who wants a dining table that is wavy?
There are two structural inlays in the top, both made from small pieces of a Brazilian wood called angelim pedra. Many woods that come from Brazil are named for the town or province in which they grow and this is no exception. The inlays are 1 1/4″ deep and provide support and strength to the drying checks in the end of the slab. We always make our inlays serve a purpose in addition to looking good. The outer inlay is raised slightly above the surface to give the eye something to catch on when scanning across the room.
The base is made from a lamination of solid ambrosia maple, again cut locally in Pine Bush, NY. Each side is curved inwards and provides extra strength and rigidity for the heavy slab. A maple stretcher with angelim pedra details is through tenoned and wedged to join the two legs.
The finish on this piece is Vermont Coatings Furniture Finish instead of our usual hand rubbed oil finishes. We chose this because red oak is particularly sensitive to fresh water and iron because of the its high tannin content. Oil finishes are slightly permeable and there is a higher danger of leaving marks than with a urethane finish. Vermont Coatings is a great product and the only urethane that we trust for indoor furniture because of the company’s commitment to healthy coatings. They are not zero-VOC, but they are as close as you can come with this type of product.